Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Human Infants Are Worthless! (A Dominator Infant Rocks In "Phone Home!")

The Good: Good use of humor, Decent performances, Good character development, Fun allusions
The Bad: B-plot is troublingly obvious, Tomaz evolves way too quickly to feel organic
The Basics: Legends Of Tomorrow continues to explore the consequences of breaking time in "Phone Home," which puts Ray Palmer in jeopardy.

Almost immediately in the third season of Legends Of Tomorrow, the magnificent consequences of the second season's final scene was undone. The idea that the Waverider, crashing into an amalgamation of buildings and creatures from different times would have broken time in a way that was serious and had major consequences seemed too much for the writers to stick with. So, Rip Hunter returned with a new, more efficient, agency for fixing time, and the newly-dubbed "anachronisms" are essentially the same type of temporal anomalies as in prior seasons, this time stemming out of Hunter's Time Bureau not being quite as efficient as they initially seemed.

"Phone Home" follows on the events of "Zari" (reviewed here!), which added a new character and a new totem to Legends Of Tomorrow. Perhaps to balance that, "Phone Home" puts Ray Palmer in mortal peril.

In Ivy Town, 1988, the child Ray Palmer is pursued by government agents. In the temporal zone on the Waverider, Ray Palmer is attempting trust-building exercises when he disappears . . . having been killed in 1988. Returning to 1988, Ray Palmer rematerializes and begins to participate in rescuing his younger self. In following the young Palmer, Ray witnesses his younger self feeding a baby Dominator.

While his younger self is supposed to be at school, Palmer and Tomaz try to extract the Dominator. Unfortunately, Ray is skipping school and the two from the Waverider get trapped in his bedroom. When little Ray decides to run away with the Dominator, Tomaz chases him down. While Tomaz is captured by the anti-alien Glasses, Sara Lance is captured by a Dominator Queen.

"Phone Home" allows Ray Palmer to be fleshed out from his usual optimistic self. Palmer is revealed to be unfortunately naive as a child, getting bullied even as he tries to help out the baby Dominator. "Phone Home" is a wake-up call for Ray Palmer, as he starts to accept he was lonely as a child and still lonely as an adult. The episode is also an opportunity to flesh-out Tomaz. Tomaz is a bit of a pessimist, who grew up in a dystopia, so she is pretty much the opposite of Ray Palmer and that plays out fairly well over the course of the episode.

Throughout "Phone Home," Dr. Stein quietly exhibits boredom with being on the Waverider. His apathy toward being on the Waverider leads Rory to spy upon him and he assumes Stein has corrupt motivations. In the course of "Phone Home" Stein's true motivation is revealed and it is presented with a weird sense of temporal urgency that makes no real sense. Rory and Jackson steal the Waverider for Stein, but given the nature of the errand they are on, the immediacy of it is ridiculous.

The humor in "Phone Home" hits far more than it misses, making for a very satisfying episode of Legends Of Tomorrow. "Phone Home" is an episode very much intended for a science fiction literate audience. The lines that are direct allusions to other works hit quite a well and the episode manages to find just the right balance between doing its own thing and making hilarious references to past works.

Tala Ashe does well in "Phone Home" at fleshing out Zari Tomaz, even if her character's arc is rushed over the course of this episode. In case no one else has said it, Ashe proves herself the logical successor to Morena Baccarin with her performance style in "Phone Home;" she has a similar sense of timing.

Ultimately, "Phone Home" manages to be clever and fun without mortgaging its own sense of importance.

For other works with Susie Abromeit, please visit my reviews of:
Jessica Jones - Season 1
Battle Los Angeles
Sex Drive


For other television and movie reviews, please visit my Movie Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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